Strengthening trust in science and relevance for policy

Put far greater emphasis on science education amongst all sections of the population and on science communication Scientific knowledge and its potential applications are often poorly understood by the general public. Insufficient understanding and appreciation of science undermines the legitimacy of science and restricts its application in policy. All scientists should be expected to engage […]

Put far greater emphasis on science education amongst all sections of the population and on science communication

Scientific knowledge and its potential applications are often poorly understood by the general public. Insufficient understanding and appreciation of science undermines the legitimacy of science and restricts its application in policy. All scientists should be expected to engage with the public and to see themselves as advocates for science. Scientists need to see the need to move well beyond their academic audience and seek to reach as wide an audience as possible. Scientists need to change the way in which they present scientific findings. Quality science communication that reaches all socio-economic areas across the globe is key. Science needs to revolutionize the system it uses for communicating in a way that is accessible to all unfamiliar with its methods. Engagement by science and scientists needs to be very broad-based – with non-governmental, especially grassroots and youth-led, organizations; work cooperatives; start-ups; student associations; and associations of the general public. To ensure research findings are widely disseminated in accessible print and electronic media, all funded research should make provisions for communication.

Find technical and policy solutions to social media and internet driven acceptance of false information and alternative realities

These platforms are driving social division and disconnect from science and rational decision making. Scientists and the organizations of science should be supported to actively combat misinformation and false science within their domains and disciplines. 

Increase the number of scientists within government and enhance transparency in respect to science advice

Governments are often inadequately informed on science and its relevance to policy. Few scientists are located in government, and levels of understanding of science on the part of policy-makers and government administrations are often inadequate. While COVID-19 has seen science and scientists become far more prominent in policy making, there have, in many instances, been tensions between scientists offering advice and policy-makers. Lack of transparency on the science advice given to government, and on government deliberations as to the application of that advice, further undermine trust in science and the efficacy of policy adopted. Therefore, it will also be critical to enhance transparency in respect to science advice as well government deliberations and treatment of such advice.

Undertake cross-country studies of institutions and practices for policy advice, generating principles to be followed that strengthen the linkages between science and policy

While there is no one best model, and every country will have its own arrangements for science advice to policy, the different approaches need to be studied and lessons learnt about the institutional arrangements most conducive to effective evidence-based policy making.


Go back: A priority action agenda for science

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